—there is no love, no authentic love encounter, without this moment of comedy.

Alain Badiou wrote about this in his wonderful short book In Praise of Love, in which he opposes the authentic experience of “falling in love” to the “search for an adequate partner” through dating agencies: what gets lost in such a search is simply love itself as a Fall—as a crazy event, a contingent traumatic encounter that derails my life and through which I am reborn as a new subject. Is this not what happens with the double fall in Ninotchka? When Ninotchka starts to laugh wildly, she doesn’t only fall into laughter, she also falls in love. With Leon, the same process takes place in two steps: at first he falls only physically, not yet subjectively, as signaled by his bitter complaint: “What’s so funny about this?” But when he joins in the laughter with Ninotchka and the restaurant crowd, his old subjectivity also falls and he changes from a decadent sophisticated seducer into a true proletarian in love. Here, then, we must supplement Badiou’s theory of love with Lubitsch: Badiou avec Lubitsch. In his elaboration of love as a fall, Badiou neglects its comical (pre)condition: prior to falling in love, both subjects have to “fall” in the sense of falling out of their (socially, hierarchically) established form of subjectivity—there is no love, no authentic love encounter, without this moment of comedy.

— Slavoj Žižek, Absolute Recoil: Towards a New Foundation of Dialectical Materialism




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